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Police Officers Quit Over Race Investigation
Press Association, Oct. 22, 2003
Five police officers accused of making racist remarks in an undercover television documentary have today resigned. P.C. Rob Pulling, one of eight officers featured in B.B.C.1.'s The Secret Policeman, broadcast last night, resigned from North Wales police this morning as a top officer in his force admitted having felt 'physically sick' watching the film. This afternoon, three officers from Greater Manchester police and one from the Cheshire force stepped down. All five officers had earlier been suspended over allegations of racist behaviour captured on secret cameras for the hour-long documentary, which was screened last night. As well as P.C. Pulling, the officers who have resigned were thought to be P.C.s Carl Jones, Tony Lewin and Adrian Harrison, of Greater Manchester police, and P.C. Steve Salkeld, of the Cheshire force.
P.C.s Andy Hall and Andy Turley, of Greater Manchester police, and P.C. Keith Cheshire, of North Wales police, tonight remained suspended while criminal and disciplinary investigations were carried out into allegations aired in the programme. Before the programme was screened, the B.B.C. was criticised by the home secretary, David Blunkett, for not handing over evidence of racism before it was broadcast. However, Mr. Blunkett today added his voice to those of the many senior police officers who admitted feeling sick and ashamed by the extreme racist behaviour of young recruits in the programme. One top officer said he had felt 'physically sick' at racist comments captured on film by undercover reporter Mark Daly. Another said he felt 'ashamed to be a member of the British police service,' while Mr. Blunkett said that the extent of the racist behaviour in the film was 'horrendous.' A new training scheme on diversity should now be adopted nationwide, the home secretary said.
The Secret Policeman showed racism among a number of trainee officers from forces in North Wales, Cheshire and Greater Manchester after 28-year-old Mr. Daly posed as a recruit, armed with an array of hidden cameras. The Glaswegian journalist spent seven months with Greater Manchester police, compiling a dossier of evidence against seven recruits and one serving officer before being exposed and arrested. P.C. Pulling, who was based in Rhyl, north Wales, was seen wearing a home-made Ku Klux Klan-style hood, saying he would bury an Asian under a train track and that Hitler had the 'right idea.' Murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence had 'deserved it' and his parents were 'a f****** pair of spongers,' he added. Clive Wolfendale, the acting deputy chief constable of North Wales police, said: 'It is frankly hard to imagine more despicable words.' Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom would now be writing to the Lawrence family to apologise.
Mr. Wolfendale said it was 'scant comfort' that 'raw recruit' P.C. Pulling had never walked the streets of North Wales unsupervised. He said: 'I felt physically sick as I watched The Secret Policeman last night, and I suspect some of you did. Pulling has shamed his colleagues, his uniform and his service. He is a disgrace.' The Greater Manchester deputy chief constable, Alan Green, said that any case the racist recruits were involved in would have to be reviewed. 'It is fair to say the programme last night, which we had not seen previously, has really shocked, certainly, me. It has made me ashamed to be part of the British police service, and it has saddened me greatly.' The police service had to use 'any tactics' it could to root out racists in the ranks, Mr. Green said.
'I am not prepared to go into details, but this is a big wake-up call for us and I know (chief constable) Michael Todd is determined we will leave no stone unturned in rooting out these people,' he added. Mr. Todd, currently at a conference in the U.S., said he was 'personally offended' by any racism or discrimination. 'Such behaviour from police officers or our support staff is totally unacceptable and disgusts me as a fellow officer,' he said. When Mr. Daly was exposed in August, he had been arrested on suspicion of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, and damaging police property. He was due to answer bail next month, but Mr. Green today gave a strong hint that the reporter would not face charges. He said: 'We have to say that the revealing of this behaviour within the police service has got to be welcomed in whatever way it comes, despite the difficulties we are presented with.'
Britain's top police officer said he would have arrested anyone he heard making comments similar to those in the documentary. Sir John Stevens, commissioner of the Metropolitan police, said: 'I have never heard that type of conduct or behaviour and that type of racism - if I had, I would have arrested them for it.' The forces involved said they now had to work to reassure their own officers, staff and potential recruits, as well as the communities they serve, that there was no place for racism in the police.
An Asian officer targeted by some of the recruits in last night's documentary now works for North Wales police. In an anonymous statement released today, he said: 'After viewing last night's programme, The Secret Policeman, I am surprised and saddened at the behaviour and comments made by a small number of officers towards me. I am proud to be a North Wales police officer and have received tremendous support from the force and my colleagues. I remain committed to being a police officer and serving the communities of north Wales.'